It's Off to College We Go! - Part 1
- Friday, November 16, 2007
Explore more about college majors through resources such as www.collegeboard.myroad.com, national magazines that evaluate colleges, such as U.S. News and World Report (www.usnews.com) and The Princeton Review (www.princetonreview.com), professional organizations, and college advisors. Once you and your high schooler have narrowed your career choice and college studies, you are ready to select the college that will be the perfect fit for your child.
Begin the process of choosing a university when the student is in his final two years of high school. Consider these important questions: Would my child best thrive in a public or private college? Is a private or Christian school important to us? Would he flourish at larger university with many diverse opportunities, or would a small, personal college be the place where he would best grow? Would my youth be more comfortable in a metropolis, suburban, or rural setting? What about the distance from home? My son and I agreed that he would not attend a college farther than one day's drive from home, even though this meant that he would not consider some very appealing universities.
Explore the admission requirements, and don't forget the cost and available financial aid. After you have determined your parameters, select 6 to 8 schools that fit within those guidelines and request general college information and specific departmental information from them. Spend time with your student browsing through materials with the goal of limiting your selection to the top 3 or 4 schools.
Colleges are academically ranked in three tiers. Unless your student rests soundly on one extreme of the academic continuum, he should consider selecting a tier I university, one to three tier II schools, and one tier III college. Next, visit as many of these universities as possible. Take a list of questions, be sure to visit the admissions and financial aid offices, take a campus tour, check out the housing options, and make an appointment with a faculty member. If campus visits are not possible, find college fairs in your area where you and your potential collegiate can speak with a representative from the university.
Once you have completed the steps of choosing a career, deciding upon a major, and selecting a college, you and your student will have completed the first leg of your path from high school to college. You can now confidently select the best high school course of study.
Planning High School
Now that your student knows where he is headed, the next stretch of the course is to map out a high school curriculum. High school transcripts must meet the mandates of (1) your state's high school graduation requirements; (2) the admission requisites of prospective universities; (3) the recommendations of the college or department major within the university; and most importantly, (4) your desires as a parent.
The demands of these four entities often differ. Our state does not mandate foreign language for high school graduation. However, all of the universities to which my son applied required two years of foreign language in high school. Similarly, our state required only three years of math and science and several universities had the same regulations, but the colleges of engineering wanted four years of both high school math and science. While none of Micah's prospective universities made Bible or worldview essential, these subjects were important to me as a parent. The assorted requirements may be obtained though your state educational organization, the admissions department of your prospective university, and the department or "college" of your child's prospective major.
To identify your parental requirements, ask yourself these questions: What do I want my child to know spiritually and biblically before he leaves home? What does he need to learn emotionally and mentally before he launches into the world? Are there any physical skills I would like him to acquire? Once you have these sundry requirements in hand, compile them into a list and then map out a four-year high school plan. This "map" will serve as one of your first high school records.
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